North Korean Reform Watch 8
CHINA ELECTRIFIES its border fence with North Korea, reportedly with a below-lethal 220 volts (for now).
NORTH KOREA WARNS ITS CITIZENS against contact with foreigners:
According to the source, “The lecturers put it like this: ‘foreigners are envious of our ideology and will try to undermine it,’ and emphasize that ‘we should not communicate with them because they could be enemy forces in disguise trying to attack our socialist ways and spread bad ideas.’”
The source continued, “The lecture material even said, ‘Chinese people bring things like processed ham to eat, but that doesn’t suit our race and will upset our stomachs and lead to ill health.’” However, he pointed out, “There is already plenty of Chinese ham in the market, so I’m not sure who they think is going to believe that.” [Daily NK]
It is a scientific fact, comrades, that apples and milk are healthy for pigs, but unhealthy for other animals.
CHINESE QUIT MUSAN MINE? I’m getting to the point where I believe less and less of what I read in some segments of the Korean press, but if true, this would be a big deal. The Chinese probably have a pretty solid idea of how sincere North Korea is about reform. If the story is true, it appears to reflect a combination of falling ore prices and rising state-imposed operating costs. The latter could also be interpreted as an important vote of no confidence in the North Korean investment climate.
YOU MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BELIEVED the initial reports of agricultural reform in North Korea, but those reforms appear to have lasted about as long as a typical North Korean disarmament agreement:
It appears that plans to use a handful of farms to road test the agricultural element of North Korea’s ‘June 28th Policy’ have been put on hold until next year due to difficulties with implementation. Under the plan, 30% of farm grain production plus any over-production was due to go to the farm itself, while 70% was to be procured by the state.
A Hyesan-based source explained today, “Cooperative farm cadres are saying that none of the experimental farms will be given 30% of their production this year because it has become difficult to meet the target. They are saying that the harvest is not good and they need to feed the military as a matter of priority, so first they’ll guarantee the military rice then give the rest to the farmers.” [Daily NK]
Who supposes the regime will find it equally difficult to proceed with some of its other “reform” plans, like confiscating privately-cultivated fields, fixing prices, harassing traders, and revaluing the currency? Very little changes until everything changes.